Tag Archive | Les Invalides Paris

How much is enough for vets?

Muriel-6

This here’s a rant. Photo: Timothy Stark

Some of us are warriors. Some are not. I’m definitely not. We are who we are and that’s that. I can’t say I’m totally anti-war either because there are individuals among us who hunger too much for power, money or both, and are not concerned with how many people die as a result. Countries need to be prepared, plus o ur military also helps during fires, storms, floods and other natural disasters. We owe them.

Our politicians involve us in wars far from home where we send our

canadian-soldier Afghanistan

Canadian Soldier in Afghanistan

sons and daughters to fight. If they survive, they come back. How we treat our veterans when they make it back says much about us.

Numerous Regional Veterans Affairs Offices were closed during the recent years the Conservatives were in power here, making it even more difficult than ever for needy veterans to get help. (Our new Liberal government has promised to reopen them. the sooner the better.)

Homeless in Canada

Homeless in Canada

Nobody knows for sure, but in some quarters they believe about 2,250 vets are homeless. Since figures are far from complete, that’s probably an underestimate. A more realistic figure is thought to be about 15,000 – 20,000. Some shelters guess about 2.7% of shelter users are vets, but most don’t ask. Analysts say vets don’t ordinarily use shelters anyway, they just go homeless. These men, who have served us and our country, are completely on their own to deal with PTSD, alcoholism, broken families, often made worse by mental disorders. How can we neglect them?

A friend who knows more than I do says 70% of injuries which were not treatable during the Vietnam War are now being successfully treated and are survivable. Advances in medicine make it possible to save lives, but then turning veterans, no matter how severely damaged, out to fend for themselves when they so desperately need our help is unacceptable.

Throughout history there have been disabled warriors unable to maintain themselves. This is nothing new, but how we deal with the problem will go down in history and tell future generations what we are made of.

Louis-XIV

Louis XIV of France, 1638-1715

Back in 1659, French King Louis XIV decided to build ‘Les Invalides’ for the care of the severely wounded and the lodging of old soldiers. (Louis wasn’t known as the Sun King for nothing.) His edict, dated Feb 24, 1670, in part says ‘to construct a royal building of sufficient size and space to receive and lodge all officers and men who are crippled or old and frail and to guarantee sufficient funds for their subsistence and upkeep.’

Les Invalides-Paris

Les Invalides, Paris

This wasn’t a brand new idea either. Other monarchs before him wanted to do something like this — Henri III, Henri IV, and Louis XIII. The difference? He’s the guy who achieved it.

Construction began in 1670, was ready for the veterans to move into by 1674, and Louis XIV greeted the first new arrivals himself. (Just as Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed new Syrian refugees in person.)

Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte

It was Napoleon’s tomb which first drew me to “Les Invalides’.  That’s where it is and I wanted to see it. Nonetheless, the tomb’s location has created a degree of dissension among French thinkers ever since it was placed there. The arguments continue….

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one wanting to see Napoleon’s

Adolf Hitler, 1889-l945

Hitler, 1889-1945

tomb. Hitler, a great fan, visited it on June 23, 1940. What, I wonder, was he thinking as he stood in silence before the impressive tomb of a man he so admired? Was he hoping he could, like Napoleon, crown himself emperor of all of Europe one day? Did he see his own tomb sitting in that place of honor in the future? In a gesture of respect, Hitler arranged for Napoleon’s son’s ashes to be returned to France and placed near his father’s. (Napoleon II died of tuberculosis at the age of 21.)

Those who fought and died during World War II gave their blood, limbs and lives to save us from Hitler. Those who fight for us today, likewise, deserve respect, care and the help they need. According to statistics from our Canadian defence department, suicide claims more soldiers than those killed in Afgan combat. (Toronto Star, September 16, 2014.)

No matter what country you live in, this is not okay. Write your politicians. Make some noise about the issue.

 

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